DNC Day 2: Bill Clinton in Full Bloom:
At some point, nine months from now, there's going to be a small baby boom among Democrats and probably more than a few independents. Why? Because Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention last night was an aphrodisiac so pure that it made oysters close in embarrassment. It was like Prince in his prime, the music you fuck to, and you can bet that more than a few condom packages were torn open, more than a few anuses penetrated and clits licked, more than a few morning after pills used, proudly, without regret, without recrimination, because, goddamnit, the Big Dog just makes you feel so good about being you and believing the things you believe that he's a walking tab of Ecstasy and you just wanna put it on your tongue and let the warm feeling take you over.
In substance (and, holy shit, that was a substantive speech - Clinton said more about specific policies than the entire Republican convention), what the former President committed last night was an act of vengeance against the vast right wing conspiracy that sought to destroy him and continues to try to destroy Obama. The theme of the speech was "I'm sick of this shit. Aren't you?" In simple, direct, compelling language, Clinton gutted not just the Republicans' arguments against Obama, but he dug in deeper and stabbed them in the soul. Too hyperbolic? Here's Clinton: "Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private- sector jobs. So what's the job score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42!" (And, by the way, those numbers are correct.) That one line undermines decades of GOP talking points.
And then, like a Democrat should, he brought the numbers back to something even more important, to the root reasons why Democrats succeed at creating jobs where Republicans fail: "There's a reason for this. It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics. Why? Because poverty, discrimination and ignorance restrict growth. When you stifle human potential, when you don't invest in new ideas, it doesn't just cut off the people who are affected; it hurts us all. We know that investments in education and infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase growth. They increase good jobs, and they create new wealth for all the rest of us." Clinton made the case that government is a force for moral good and offered proof, unlike Republicans who merely repeat that government is bad and have to lie to demonstrate the case.
On and on Clinton went, not going too long at all, bringing up every Republican lie against Barack Obama except birtherism and just wasting them. When he talked about the Affordable Care Act and student loans, there had to be more than a few people watching who thought, "Huh. Why haven't I heard about all this good stuff before?" He even made room to talk about the ways Republicans are trying to limit voting rights. It was the catharsis both he and the gathered delegates needed. The most direct act of vengeance of the evening was when Clinton went after Mitch McConnell, who had been one of the Senate's driving forces behind the impeachment and attempt to remove Clinton from office. Clinton said, "Now, we all know that [Obama] also tried to work with congressional Republicans on health care, debt reduction and new jobs. And that didn't work out so well. But it could have been because, as the Senate Republican leader said in a remarkable moment of candor, two full years before the election, their No. 1 priority was not to put America back to work; it was to put the president out of work." And then he got thousands of people to boo Mitch McConnell on national television. That's guns a-blazin', motherfuckers.
To put it another way, he was more Clint Eastwood than Clint Eastwood was.
Last night, perhaps more than at any other point in his career, Bill Clinton was a man in full, a confident, triumphant speaker offering what might be the valedictory speech of his career. And doing so in a gracious way that contained surprisingly few references to his own administration but did make room for high praise for Joe Biden and, even, George W. Bush, which is more than any Republican did. He worked the crowd like a throwback to another era of politics, knowing that his voice and his presence was more of a special effect than anything that could be put into an ad. He was such a confident showman that, at times when he was saying to the screaming audience, "Wait a minute" or "Now, listen to this," the Rude Pundit half-expected him to say, "You ain't heard nothin' yet." And as a bumper sticker writing machine (calling Romney "someone who will double-down on trickle-down," for instance), he isn't Slick Willie. He's the Don Draper of American politics.
Finally, Clinton made the case for the success of the first Obama term (and, yes, we can argue about that, but let's save such things for next week). All of his previous anger and resentment dissipated, he passed the second term baton, the last reelected Democrat telling America that this Democrat deserved that chance to continue the work. He continued the narrative begun by Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and other speakers: politics is not about transforming government into a cold business; it's about lives and bodies.
Clinton took it even further. Since it is about lives and bodies, he told us, don't you deserve to hear the facts? Don't you deserve to be talked to like grown-ups who participate actively in democracy, as a society, instead of being left alone? We have to live in the real world, said the man who spends his life trying to make it better and healthier, and we're all in this together.
(A quick note to the right: If you dismiss Clinton's speech by saying that he got a blow job in the Oval Office, then you deserve Mitt Romney as your president.)